Thursday, May 07, 2015

Positive Psychology Resources for Life and Trading

If you have problems with your old Ford, repairing the car is a worthwhile undertaking.  Repairing your Ford, however, will not build you a Tesla.  The fundamental insight of positive psychology is that ameliorating life's negatives--resolving conflicts, coping with stresses--is necessary to an optimal life, but not sufficient.  Healing physical aches and pains won't make us physically fit.  For that, we need workouts in a gym.  Positive psychology is a set of cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and social workouts in life's gymnasium.

For years, traders have turned to psychology to help them deal with the emotional challenges and stresses of making financial decisions in uncertain and changing markets.  They have an old Ford and they look for repairs.  If you ask those traders about their goals, however, they want a Tesla.  They want distinctive success, not just fewer problems and setbacks.  For that, traders need to actively exercise their strengths, not just correct their mistakes.  But how many traders truly treat each trading day as time in the gym, identifying and developing what makes them successful?

One of the greatest costs of a negative mindset are the lost opportunities to develop life's positives.  Couples think that working on their communication skills will restore their marriages when the problem is that they no longer engage in the activities and interactions that inspired their initial love.  You know a relationship and a career are over when all that's left is working on problems.  It's only a matter of time before that old car can't be fixed.

A great starting point for finding that new car is to recognize that we have a wide range of capacities and competencies and all of them are subject to the principle of "use it or lose it."  The diamond we become depends upon the facets we carve and polish.  What do you want to use and develop?  What are you willing to lose and set aside?  The best gems don't have the most cuts, but the most flawless ones.

Here are some resources to kickstart your sojourn in life's gymnasium:

1)  Dr. Nico Rose highlights 10 contributors to positive psychology across a variety of domains;

2)  Helpful database of researchers working in the field of positive psychology;

3)  A wealth of articles on positive psychology topics from The Greater Good Science Center;

4)  Comprehensive list of readings in positive psychology;

5)  My Forbes blog specifically addresses trading, investment, and positive psychology, with a focus on peak performance.

Happy workouts!